EDITIONS
Women Entrepreneur

From excel sheets to creating coffee blends - when a dancer and a philosophy student gave an ode to Baba Budan

Indrojit D. Chaudhuri
12th Apr 2016
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College friends Mrinal Sharma and Sadhavi Ashwani founded Baba’s Beans in 2013. They source premium coffee beans from regional estates, roast, and create their own blends for sale. Named after the fabled Baba Budan, a 16th century Sufi saint who brought back seven coffee beans carefully hidden in a stick and planted them in his backyard (present day Chikmagalur), Baba’s Beans is an ode to him for introducing coffee to India, where the soil adds its soul to make the cup richer! While Mrinal, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer, was getting bored with the repetitive work as Audit Analyst with KPMG, Sadhavi was pursuing masters in Philosophy from Delhi University. The mutual desire of these two college friends, who are in their early 20s, to start something of their own and an addiction for coffee found a match and that is how Baba’s Beans took shape.

Sadhavi---Mrinal

Sourcing their coffee beans from Coorg and Chikmagalur in Karnataka, the duo spent a lot of their time with the planters asking questions and educating themselves on the ground about coffee. “We often made a fool of ourselves asking the most silly questions to them, which we realise now,” remembers Sadhavi. To pursue their passion further and adding credibility to their knowledge, the duo even enrolled themselves for a professional training programme on coffee roasting, brewing, and retailing with the Coffee Board in Bengaluru, a year before they started Baba’s Beans. “Interestingly, we were the only two people in the class so we kept at asking more questions. The theoretical knowledge imparted in the classroom complemented the rich knowledge that we had gathered from our interactions with the planters at various coffee estates,” says Mrinal.

Meeting the dynamic girls is as good as getting a master class in coffee with their rich knowledge about coffee and the eagerness to share with their customers. Their astute business sense, and out-of-the-box ideas to promote coffee drinking has made them popular for their coffee tasting sessions. Recently, they collaborated successfully with the celebrity chef TR Arun Kumar to pair their range of filter coffees, including cold brews with the coastal food pop-up that he hosted. “Coffee is much like wine when it comes to tasting, but far more complex flavours are associated with the brew. Various factors like personal taste libraries, smokers, vegetarians, etc., come to play while creating the perfect cup for the discerning drinker,” explains Sadhavi, about how they go about creating personalised blends of their coffee according to their customer’s budget, palette and dietary habits.

Mrinal shares, “By the virtue of belonging to an agrarian economy, our vision culminates in the trade of one of the finest crops grown in India. From the beginning, we were sure that we will deal only in Indian Coffees because these coffees provide us a realm of infinite possibilities that unfold themselves gradually.” “Since we understand the complexities of this brown nectar, and from which estates the beans are coming, we are quite proud of our ability to serve freshly roasted, special handpicked, double-checked, shade grown and stimulating aromatic coffee to the doorstep of our customers,” chips in Sadhavi.

For the girls at Baba’s Beans, coffee is the locus of energy, charm, flavour, and stimulation. “Our entrepreneurial venture in the coffee sector embodies simultaneously our love for coffee and our undying urge to induce our customers to comprehend, assimilate, develop and savour the taste for this theatrical experience,” shares Sadhavi. “We have made considerable progress in the B2B side of the business, which includes supplying coffee to cafes and restaurants and catering coffee at niche pop-ups and events across Delhi, NCR,” she elaborates. As a step towards the B2C clientele, the girls are working towards setting up coffee kiosks and workshops to provide a wide range of blends and roast profiles. They envision engaging with the audiences, and sample the quality of beans, roasting profile, flavour variants that are imaginable and possible. In fact, they take their National Coffee Day celebrations very seriously and on September 28, they are seen distributing free samples of coffee around town.

Baba's-Beans

Currently, selling through e-commerce portals and their Facebook page, Baba’s Beans is all set to introduce their range of cold brews in the Delhi market through cafe and store tie ups. Talking about their products, they share, “Each of our products like the Roaster Booster blend showcases the fine art of roasting, which is not the highest elevation coffee but is a good cup of strong everyday coffee. Arsenal is a blend of two varieties of washed beans and one variety of sundried beans that give a strong coffee for cappuccinos, where there’s no loss of flavour when adding milk. Adding milk only adds to the flavour profile.”

Their next target is to start roasting the beans locally in Delhi to have further control of the process and also to keep introducing newer tastes and concoctions in northern India. From appreciating a fine cuppa to developing their own blends, these two feisty girls have come a long way in doing Baba Budan proud.

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